HOUSTON – Jury selection began Monday afternoon in the case of a Houston woman who says she was raped by co-workers in Iraq when she worked for KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton.
The suit was filed by Jamie Leigh Jones against Halliburton and its ex-subsidiary, KBR Inc., both based in Houston.
Jones says she was 20 years old when she signed up to be an IT technician for KBR at Camp Hope, Baghdad, in 2005.
She’d only been there 72 hours when she says she was drugged during a friendly encounter with several KBR firefighters and raped after she fell unconscious.
She woke up with injuries consistent with a violent sexual assault.
Jones said KBR and Halliburton tried to cover up the crime and attempted to keep her silent. She said a rape kit taken after the alleged assault disappeared for two years and resurfaced, but was missing key photographs and evidence.
KBR and Halliburton split in 2007.
Jones has fought for the past six years to get her day in court. She finally had that chance Monday, arriving at the courthouse early with her attorneys at her side.
"I think this cause is bigger than myself. I want to have a deterrent so this doesn’t’ happen to other women and other wives and daughters that go overseas," she said in a 2009 interview.
The lawsuit was filed in 2007 and KBR has fought it every step of the way. The company says she couldn’t sue because her employment contract stipulated that arbitration was required. It was a stance KBR fought, and lost, all the way to the Supreme Court.
KBR has always challenged the facts of the case, claiming that Jamie Leigh Jones was seen having several drinks with one man and that she woke up with that one man, a KBR firefighter, the next morning.
The company said that whatever they did was consensual.
In a recent written statement to KHOU 11 News, KBR said, "it welcomes the opportunity to present what really happened in Iraq in July, 2005 to the judge and jury… [We] will provide evidence and testimony from multiple witnesses who were in Iraq with Ms. Jones at the time of the alleged incident.
As for what will be discussed in the trial, Jones’ attorneys said they plan on bringing in other female witnesses who say they have also experienced sexual advances and assaults at the work place.
Jones’ attorneys also said they will also call Texas Congresswoman Ted Poe as a witness. They said Poe was instrumental in getting her out of KBR’s hands and out of Iraq.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.